In a recent resolution, The Texas State Board of Education waded into controversy by claiming that a "pro-Islamic" and "anti-Christian" bias has "tainted" the state's school textbooks. The board, which reportedly consists heavily of evangelical Christians, has listed several instances of such bias and will vote on Friday to adopt the resolution, which may have no practical effect. Concerned board members complain that Islam receives special attention, while Christianity "didn't even make the Table of Contents." Here's a look at what's happening in Texas and the larger national debate that board's actions have touched off.
- Author 'Sees a Conspiracy to Sugercoat the History of Islam' oberves James C. McKinley Jr. of the New York Times. The man who drafted the resolution, Randy Rives, "has found several sympathizers among the board's seven-member conservative bloc, who have introduced his resolution verbatim. The measure says past textbooks devoted more lines to Islamic beliefs and practices than to Christianity and spelled out atrocities committed by Christian crusaders while ignoring similar atrocities by Muslim fighters." It's Not Just About Christianity "Board of Ed member Barbara Cargill, who supports the resolution, said she reviewed three of the textbooks in question and found several instances of bias against Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism," reports FOX News. She told them, "What this resolution does to me is send a polite message to publishers that here are some things we don't want in the textbooks, and we don't want bias." The Offending Books Aren't Even in Classrooms Anymore points out board member Pat Hardy to CBS News. Hardy suggested, "the issue may be moot because none of the books cited by Rives still are being used in Texas, having been replaced in 2003, and said Rives 'might want to go back and get newer copies of the books.'" This is a 'Bogus Controversy' said Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network to The Dallas Morning News. "This is another example of board members putting politics ahead of just educating our kids...Once again, without consulting any real experts, the board's politicians are manufacturing a bogus controversy."
- This Could Have Larger Implications reports Mark Memmott at NPR. The board's, "rather benign description on the board's webpage doesn't totally reflect what's going to be debated....Basically, its school system is so large that if Texas presses publishers to make changes in textbooks, the revisions will likely spread to other states as well." Radical Multiculturalism Is a 'Growing Problem' write Robert Holland and Don Soifer at The Daily Caller. "A prime current example is the widespread use of U.S. and world history textbooks that are actively glorifying Islam and sanitizing its radical elements, while downplaying or denigrating the Judeo-Christian roots of the United States and Western civilization in general." The Lexington Institute education analysts find numerous examples of textbooks that "sanitize" the more radical examples of Islam including an American Textbook Council (ATC), "review of 10 of the most widely used junior and senior high school textbooks a concerted effort to cleanse jihad — the rallying cry of Islamic terrorists — of all belligerent connotations." Radical Islamophobia is the Real Problem argues a seemingly exasperated Michael Zimmerman at The Huffington Post. The fact that the "politicized" Texas board came to this decision isn't surprising, he notes. "This is the Board that ignored the advice of science experts when they crafted their science curriculum, making it ever-so-friendly to creationism, and this is the group that ignored the advice of social science experts when they opted to recast the state's social science curriculum in stark political terms." The board's most recent resolution draws a "troublingly xenophobic conclusion" that is not supported by an actual evidence. Case in point: Zimmerman cites A Texas Freedom Network blog post explaining that their "resolution grossly understates the amount of coverage textbooks give to Christianity. In fact, it ignores entire textbook sections that deal with Christianity, including chapters and passages on the Reformation, Christian influences during the Renaissance and on the political evolution of Europe, canon law and church reform."